This is the Morning Shift, our one-stop daily roundup of all the auto news that's actually important — all in one place at 9:00 AM. Or, you could spend all day waiting for other sites to parcel it out to you one story at a time. Isn't your time more important?
1st Gear: China Is Propping Up Chery
Reuters reports on little known subsidies that are being provided by the Chinese government to Chery Automotive. According to Reuters, research by state-owned China Lianhe Credit Rating Co shows that Chery would have lost money in each of the past three years were it not for government subsidies. Year to date, Chery sales are down 13 percent, the second year in a row of lower sales.
The losses for 2009 and 2010 are noteworthy because auto sales soared then, thanks to Beijing's incentive programs. Chery might not have needed the subsidies if it had concentrated on strengthening its core QQ subcompact, which some people see as a copy of the Chevrolet Spark Instead, it rolled out dozens of new models with little differentiation and even created two additional brands, Riich and Rely, which never caught on. It has since folded those brands into its main business.
2nd Gear: Ford's Euro Problems Stall A New Coupe
Inside Line reports that Ford wants to build a new coupe positioned below the Ford Mustang. But the proposal has been put on hold because of the company's problems in Europe. The decision to delay the car was made by CEO Alan Mulally, according to Inside Line, and it's a disappointment to those who think the company needs a sexy coupe as a halo car. The design was developed from one of Ford's core global platforms. And here's something interesting. Although the next Mustang has been developed for global sale, and it's expected to be sold in Europe, Ford officials there believe that its sales potential there will be limited owing to its size, price and thirst. While coupes are risky models from the profitability perspective — overall volumes are low and they tend to have short lives — proponents of the coupe believe Ford has to have something in addition to the MPVs and SUVs that dominate its lineup.
3rd Gear: GM Gets A Mixed Report Card
The Associated Press says Sunday marked the two-year anniversary of General Motors' return to the New York Stock Exchange. So, how has it done since the IPO? The AP says GM's achievements include strong profits, a per-car selling price up 6 percent from a year ago, well-received new cars and a big pile of cash. Its struggles include that pesky stock price, which is still 30 percent below the IPO price despite all of the company's improvements. Its U.S. market share has dropped to 18 percent from 22 percent at the end of 2008, and of course there's Europe, where GM expects to lose as much as $1.8 billion this year.
Looking ahead, the AP says a big GM question is leadership, and that means CEO Dan Akerson. Said AP: "Despite streamlining decision making, many in the company view him unwilling to listen. He recently removed the heads of sales, marketing, and Europe, which some critics viewed as too much change too fast. Akerson has pushed to bring products to market faster, but has hit resistance from engineers who fear that quality could suffer. Finally, he has bred resentment among employees by complaining that GM's culture is risk-averse and slow."
4th Gear: New Yorkers Still Aren't Normally Gassy
NBC News reports that while New Jersey and Long Island have gotten rid of gas rationing, it's still in effect in New York City. The odd-even plan will remain in place until at least Friday. The plan, which was put in place on Nov. 9, was supposed to end today, and lines have diminished. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the emergency order is necessary because of the looming holiday travel crunch. "With 30 percent of gas stations still closed and a major travel week coming, I am extending the successful odd-even system on gas and diesel fuel purchases to ensure we do not risk going back to the extreme lines we saw prior to the system being implemented." Meanwhile, New York State is going after 13 gas stations for price gouging in the wake of the storm. And did you see New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on SNL, wearing his fleece?
5th Gear: McLaren's Super GT Concept Comes Back To Life
Not surprisingly, the McLaren 12C Can-Am Concept is no longer a concept. Built in honor of McLaren's success in GT3 and in the spirit of Bruce himself (and ignoring all FIA regulations) they've bumped power from the 3.8-liter V8 to 630 horsepower, making it the most powerful 12C derivative yet offered. They say they're only building 30 of them, though Martin Whitmarsh told Matt Hardigree this weekend a number that sounded slightly higher.
Whitmarsh also said they're going to sell them to the interested parties and ask them what the owners want to do with them. FXX-style track racing program? One-make series? Super cheater LeMons car? It's up to them to decide.
Reverse: Toyota Cavalier (Not A Typo) Comes To Life
On this day in 1993, General Motors and Toyota reached an agreement for Toyota to sell a version of the Chevrolet Cavalier in Japan. The move was meant to blunt U.S. criticism that the Japanese market was closed to American cars, and also give GM a answer to Japanese critics who said American companies weren't offering vehicles with right-hand drive. The Toyota Cavalier was built in Lordstown, Ohio, where the Japan-bound cars underwent separate inspections and were modified to meet Japanese' tastes. [History]
In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.
Today, we'd like to know if you think Ford should go ahead with the small coupe that it's put on hold. Especially our Euro-Jalops, do you think Ford's lineup has gotten too dull? Or is the coupe market more for show than sales? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.
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